Well hello

Welcome to the blog of me, Paige Tabone; student, writer, nerd, self-critic, telly-addict and self-confessed Cerebral Palsy-er (or wobbly if you will). It is the latter that has brought me to blogging. Ramming my way through the bullshit stereotypes that surround disability, showing the undiluted truth of someone twenty-two years into living on the often bumpy and unpredictable road against what's seen as 'normal'.

I'm aware you might have just got lost trying to navigate yourself to a hilarious cat video; now you are looking bewildered as you see nether a ominous looking jump or an unwittingly naive cat. Yet whether you find yourself here by purpose, mistake or luck I welcome you and offer you to get yourself comfortable, grab a nice cup of tea or a strong, stiff drink and stay for a bit. You see this isn't a story about some poor, unfortunate girl with a disability; it's simply a story about a girl with a set of tits, a set of tires and a mission to set the disability misconceptions record straight...

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A Wobbly's Guide to Dating Etiquette

I can't tell you how much I am freaking out about my date! It's like I'm in a permanent state between excitement and the panicking urge to throw up. I've got those butterflies you get as a child when you’re about to open a present but also the impending sense of dread you get when you've just realized Santa Clause doesn't exist and he is actually your half-cut dad stumbling across the landing. It's bloody exhausting! I'd like to find the person responsible for coming up with the notion of dating and give them a well-mannered punch in the face. When else in life is there such risk of social embarrassment, general awkwardness and major fuck up's? If it's not fear of the dreaded 'awkward silence', it's the total and utter hysteria that you won't make yourself look like a total loon by saying something like, 'oh for fun? Well with my 20 cats I'm pretty busy'. Not to mention, the added baggage of a big fuck-off wheelchair and its disability side-kick that brings its own dating hurdles to overcome. Therefore, if nothing more than to remind myself, I thought I'd share with you my most important dating to-do's in my newly christened 'Wobbly's guide to dating etiquette'.

1) Make sure you pick an appropriate date setting.

This is key. As whimsical and idyllic as it may be to go for a romantic beach walk at sunset, in reality, if you are in a wheelchair, you’re more liking to get two seconds in before slowing sinking into the sand while your date struggles ferociously to release you by manically heaving the back of your wheelchair. Meanwhile your sat there wheel-spinning, going nowhere fast - which runs the serious risk of projecting sand into your dates face and inevitable consequence of substantial retina damage...

If you do manage, however, to find somewhere that will not cause serious ailments or damage to either you or your date, you must negotiate your way around a wheelchair users most formidable enemy; stairs. Most of my life I have felt like a Dalek, before they became terrifyingly able to climb stairs. I was near-on indestructible, but put a step in-front of me and, poof, I'm fucked. I always have this fear that, if my date were to choose somewhere with stairs, he would have to resort to throwing food out to me like an abandoned dog. Not ideal.

2) During the date act with poise and grace at all times.

Never have the words 'lady' and 'Paige' been uttered in a sentence, so unsurprisingly this is the one I struggle with the most. Not only because of my unimaginable lack of grace but more pressingly my unachievable grasp of coordination. Anyone who has Cerebral Palsy, or knows someone with it, will know that coordination is not our greatest forte. This is only made worse in high pressured situations or when you are nervous. Therefore, the majority of my dates end in the date or myself having some variety of food or drink splattered over them either by a misjudgement of the distance to the wine glass or a complete brain malfunction between the food boarding my fork and entering my mouth. It seems to be unavoidable, as I can assure you it's not sexy or socially acceptable to whip out a baby food catcher at the dinner table. Then enviably there is the perfectly timed spasm. A hideous cretin of a beast who rears his ugly head as you are taking a sip of your drink, or more humiliatingly, in the most unassuming moments to make you look like a twitching mad-woman.

3) When the date gets going, turn on your inner seductress.

Piss easy I hear you scream. Bat your eyelids, give a little flirty wink, simple eh? I wish it was simple. First I refer you back to the previous coordination point. Winking with coordination issues must be one of the hardest tasks you can undertake. No, I retract, it is impossible. You categorically cannot wink. You just end up just blinking erratically like a manic, bewildered loon or look like you’re having some kind of unidentifiable fit.

I read somewhere once, that in order to optimally attract a person a girl must show stereotypical feminine behaviour, such as 'playful giggling or flicking her hair'. Fore mostly; rude. Could that statement be anymore stereotypically sexist if it tried? Latterly, if you can flick your hair and not get food in it when you have Cerebral Palsy then I am in unapologetic awe of you. With my general incompetence and unmeasured clumsiness, already defined above, this is an undoubtable certainty. Forget spinach in your teeth, there is a real and worrying possibility that there will be a whole family of spaghetti strings colonizing in my hair by the end of the date.

4) Giving at appropriate goodbye.

In my experience this statement is more directed at the datee oppose to the dater; in this case I shall identify myself as the dater. There are many appropriate ways to bid farewell to someone. There is the simple handshake; if the date was okay but you want to make it clear this is staying in the ‘friend’s zone’ from now until eternity. You may opt for a hug; if the date was enjoyable and you can see things progressing to date number two. That said, hugs tend to be a difficulty when you’re in a wheelchair; especially if you are both in wheelchairs, you have to practically be a contortionist to achieve them. If the date goes extremely well you may decide to take the plunge and go for the full-frontal, awkward first kiss. This is a risky strategy. Mainly as it's never apparent how much tongue to use.  You either end up like a baby lizard, darting in and out, or like an enthusiastic washing machine. Finally if all else fails, there is the respectful nod, as you are both signify the morning your lost dignity.

However whatever you do, never and I categorically mean NEVER, pat someone on the head. Nothing is more degrading than to be made to feel like a petulant child.  In this situation I, and all of my disabled chums, reserve the right to grab you firmly by the balls and give them a sharp twist. Then there will be only one thing that needs patting, presumably with a cold compress.

I could go on forever about the woe's and calamities of dating but I'm not even sure any of this has calmed my nerves of my impending date, or if I have just rambled mindlessly at you poor reader. Whoever said talking though your worries was productive?  Oh well, I guess the silver lining is I have two fully charged batteries and a valid disabled bus card to make a speedy getaway if it all goes disastrously wrong...